There is no one-size-fits-all style of education that fits all learners. This reality is faced daily by educators, not only in the K-12 classroom but also in higher education environments.
The word college now means many different things, much more than it used to. Never before in the history of education have there been more opportunities for a student to receive higher education? Two-year and four-year colleges are still dominant options. However, there are trade schools, online learning and certification programs, apprenticeships and internships, and dual enrollment programs for high school students approaching graduation.
Approximately 88% of high schools offer dual enrollment, and 34% of U.S. students take college courses in high school. While national data is limited, the growth of dual enrollment programs at individual state levels continues to increase.
A high school student can now graduate with an associate’s degree. At 18 years old, they have a skill set that allows them to become gainfully employed while either growing in their career or continuing their education while earning money.
With rising costs of higher education and living expenses, this makes sense. In many states, students can graduate or certify in coding, drafting, drone navigation, construction management, nursing, cosmetology, and more. Additionally, several school districts offer a “teacher academy” where students interested in becoming a teacher can earn their associate’s degree, get a job as a teacher assistant when they graduate, and complete their last two years of college to become certified teachers.
The options have become endless! Alternative education has often been considered a way to teach students with behavioral issues or who might not be on the “traditional college track.” In reality, the word alternative means: “Of one or more things available as another possibility.”
Alternative means more possibilities for students, period. Isn’t that a good thing?
Career opportunities have continued to grow, as new jobs have been created that weren’t even a thought ten years ago, while other jobs remain in demand and continue to grow or are modified to adapt to a tech-based world. Along with the need for various ways to learn, there is also a need for alternative education options to accommodate alternative job markets.
In more traditional higher education settings, various learning platforms offer alternative education. Some students attend class in person, while others attend entirely online or enroll in a hybrid format so they can do both. Several professors have implemented different teaching styles in addition to the traditional lecture or lab formats through project-based learning, observation learning, and implicit learning.
Alternative learning provides learners with options and opportunities that fit their learning styles, as well as their strengths and challenges, while also considering other key factors such as their time, budget, and overall lifestyle.
Perhaps we should have thought alternatively all along.
Written By: Meredith Biesinger
Professional Writer/ Education Specialist
Meredith Biesinger is a licensed dyslexia therapist in Mississippi, in addition to being an experienced classroom teacher and K-12 administrator. Meredith also works as a consultant, where she bridges the bridge the gap between K-12 school districts and ed-tech organizations. With a passion for literacy, she is also a professional writer and syndicated author. With a M.Ed in Educational Leadership and a B.S. in English Education and Creative Writing, she has had rich and diverse opportunities to teach students and education professionals in different parts of the country as well as overseas.
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